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History of sculpture


Apollo and Daphne

#Apollo and Daphne

Some common forms of sculpture are:

  • Free-standing sculpture: sculpture that is surrounded on all sides, except the base, by space. It is also known as sculpture "in the round" and is meant to be viewed from any angle.
  • Jewellery.
  • Relief: the sculpture is still attached to a background; types are bas-relief, alto-relievo and sunken-relief.
  • Site-specific art.
  • Kinetic sculpture: involves aspects of physical motion.
  • Fountain: the sculpture is designed with moving water.
  • Mobile: see also Calder's Stabiles.
  • Statue: representationalist sculpture depicting a specific entity, usually a person, event, animal or object.
  • Bust: representation of a person from the chest up.
  • Equestrian statue: typically showing a significant person on horseback.
  • Stacked art: a form of sculpture formed by assembling objects and "stacking" them.


Apollo and Daphne

#Apollo and Daphne

Sculptors have generally sought to produce works of art that are as permanent as possible, working in durable and frequently expensive materials such as bronze and stone: marble, limestone, porphyry and granite. More rarely, precious materials such as gold, silver, jade and ivory were used for chryselephantine works. More common and less expensive materials were used for sculpture for wider consumption, including hardwoods (such as oak, box/boxwood and lime/linden); terra cotta and other ceramics and cast metals such as pewter and zinc(spelter).

Many sculptors seek new ways and materials to make art.

Jim Gary used stained glass and automobile parts, tools, machine parts, and hardware. One of Pablo Picasso's most famous sculptures included bicycle parts.

Alexander Calder and other modernists made spectacular use of painted steel.

Since the 1960s, acrylics and other plastics have been used as well. Andy Goldsworthy makes his unusually ephemeral sculptures from almost entirely natural materials in natural settings. Some sculpture, such as ice sculpture, sand sculpture and gas sculpture is deliberately short-lived.

Sculptors often build small preliminary works called maquettes of ephemeral materials such as plaster of Paris, wax, clay or plastiline, as Alfred Gilbert did for "Eros" at Piccadilly Circus, London. In Retroarchaeology, these materials are generally the end product.


Many different forms of sculpture were used in Asia, with many pieces being religious art based around Hinduism and Buddhism(Buddhist art). A great deal of Cambodian Hindu sculpture is preserved at Angkor, however organized looting has had a heavy impact on many sites around the country. In Thailand, sculpture was almost exclusively of Buddha images. Many Thai sculptures or temples are gilded, and on occasion enriched with inlays.


The first known sculptures are from the Indus Valley civilization (3300–1700 b.c.), found in sites at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in modern-day Pakistan. These are among the earliest known instances of sculpture in the world. Later, as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism developed further, India produced bronzes and stone carvings of great intricacy, such as the famous temple carvings which adorn various Hindu, Jain and Buddhist shrines. Some of these, such as the cave temples of Ellora and Ajanta, are examples of Indian rock-cut architecture, perhaps the largest and most ambitious sculptural schemes in the world. During the 2nd to 1st century b.c. in northern India, in what is now southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, sculptures became more anatomically realistic, often representing episodes of the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha. Although India had a long sculptural tradition and a mastery of rich iconography, the Buddha was never represented in human form before this time, but only through symbols such as the stupa. This alteration in style may have occurred because Gandharan Buddhist sculpture in ancient Afghanistan acquired Greek and Persian influence. Artistically, the Gandharan school of sculpture is characterized by wavy hair, drapery covering both shoulders, shoes and sandals, and acanthus leaf decorations, among other things. The pink sandstone sculptures of Mathura evolved during the Gupta Empire period (4th-6th century a.d) to reach a very high fineness of execution and delicacy in the modeling. Gupta period art would later influence Chinese styles during the Sui dynasty and the artistic styles across the rest of east Asia. Newer sculptures in Afghanistan, in stucco, schist or clay, display very strong blending of Indian post-Gupta mannerism and Classical influence. The celebrated bronzes of the Chola dynasty(c. 850-1250) from south India are of particular note; the iconic figure of Nataraja being the classic example. The traditions of Indian sculpture continue into the 20th and 21st centuries with for instance, the granite carving of Mahabalipuram derived from the Pallava dynasty. Contemporary Indian sculpture is typically polymorphous but includes celebrated figures such as Dhruva Mistry.